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  • EFJ strongly condemns a court decision in the case of Katerina Borisevich and Artem Sorokin

    The repression of journalists continues to intensify in Belarus, in a context of passivity on the part of the international community. On 2 March, at 4 p.m., the Moskovsky District Court of Minsk announced its verdict. It convicted TUT.BY journalist Katerina Borisevich and doctor Artem Sorokin. They are accused of disclosing medical secrets. Katerina Borisevich was sentenced to six months in prison and a fine, Artem Sorokin to two years in prison with a one-year suspension and a fine. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) strongly condemns a court decision that violates press freedom and freedom of access to information. The EFJ once again calls on the international community to intervene to put an end to the repeated violations of the rule of law in Belarus.

    The court sen­tenced Kate­ri­na Bori­se­vich, from the local news out­let TUT.BY, to six months in prison on Tues­day for divulging med­ical secrets, after she had con­tra­dict­ed offi­cial state­ments about the death of a pro­test­er who the author­i­ties sug­gest­ed was drunk at the time. She had report­ed that there was no alco­hol in the blood­stream of pro­test­er Roman Bon­darenko when he died. Offi­cials said he had suf­fered fatal injuries in a drunk­en brawl, while his allies said he had been beat­en by secu­ri­ty forces.

    The death of Roman Bon­darenko became a flash­point in months of mass protests against ille­git­i­mate Pres­i­dent Alexan­der Lukashenko, who launched a vio­lent crack­down. The Belaru­sian author­i­ties said that reveal­ing infor­ma­tion about Bon­darenko posed a threat to pub­lic safe­ty.

    Kate­ri­na Bori­se­vich (37) has been a jour­nal­ist for almost 15 years. She has spe­cialised in legal sub­jects: she writes about high-pro­file crim­i­nal cas­es and court pro­ceed­ings. Kate­ri­na has been the win­ner of numer­ous jour­nal­ism awards. In 2015, the Office of the Attor­ney Gen­er­al award­ed her the Lau­re­ate Diplo­ma “for her pro­fes­sion­al­ism and jour­nal­is­tic skills”.
    Belaru­sian human rights organ­i­sa­tions have recog­nised Kate­ri­na Bori­se­vich and Arty­om Sorokin as polit­i­cal pris­on­ers; Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al has described them as “pris­on­ers of con­science”.

    “The EFJ joins its affil­i­ate the Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists (BAJ) in strong­ly con­demn­ing this out­ra­geous sen­tence. We call on the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty to take sanc­tions against the judge Svet­lana Bon­darenko and the state pros­e­cu­tor Lyud­mi­la Iva­nenko,” said EFJ Gen­er­al Sec­re­tary Ricar­do Gutiér­rez. “All those who vio­late the rule of law in Belarus must be held account­able. Once again, we call on the Euro­pean Union, the Coun­cil of Europe and the OSCE to take action against the dic­ta­tor Lukashenko and his hench­men. To allow this bar­bar­ic repres­sion to take place in Europe is out­ra­geous.”

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